Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We know that some of you are facing terrible losses of animals, crops, or your homes, and there are no words for what you must be feeling right now.
After you have secured your own safety and that of your animals, there are two immediate steps that you should take:
1. If you have property insurance (whether it is a homeowners’ policy or a farm policy), send written notice of your intent to file a claim by Thursday at midnight.
It can be a very short letter or email, simply stating that you have suffered damage and intend to file a claim, and preferably including your policy number. A phone call is not enough, but you can submit the notice through the company’s website if they provide that option. Keep a copy of the website confirmation page, your email, or your letter, so you can prove you submitted the notice in writing.
A new state law goes into effect on Friday that will make it harder to sue insurance companies for denying, lowballing, or delaying claims for property damage from natural disasters – thus reducing the incentive for insurance companies to treat you fairly. The new law doesn’t affect your ability to file a claim, but it is likely to affect how your insurer treats your claim.
2. Document the damage as quickly as possible – preferably before the water recedes, and definitely before you begin any clean-up. Take pictures of everything before you do anything else. As you start cleaning up, document everything you do. A good option is to keep your notes in a spiral notebook or binder, so that you have everything in one place.
We are compiling information about the resources available to help with disaster recovery from USDA, FEMA, SBA, and TDA and will send out more information shortly.
(Texas Tribune article on the insurance law changes: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/28/harvey-insurance-claims/ )